Footage from 2022 of Banksia Hill riot squad using force on a 16-year-old boy has been released, highlighting yet another "unacceptable and outrageous case of child abuse" and a youth justice system that is "fundamentally broken", says Amnesty International.
The human rights group noted on Wednesday that the footage depicts riot squad officers shackling and restraining s teenager in a banned "figure four" hold, in the midst of a mental health crisis.
The footage also depicted the teenager expressing suicidal ideation, as officers locked him in chains, leaving him bound in a cell.
Amnesty International Australia condemned the WA Government for the "horrendous treatment" of this boy.
The group said "it is clear that the use of force was extreme and unwarranted, inflicting heavy trauma upon the teenage boy" and noted that justice experts have called for a "far greater level of transparency" from the department.
Amnesty International Australia's Community Engagement Associate Campaigner Rachael McPhail said the bodycam footage is "genuinely shocking"
"Our thoughts go out to this young person, their mob and community. It's devastating to see any young person be treated in this manner, when they really need care and compassion in a mental health crisis," she said.
"Where is the trauma-informed care? Where were the mental health clinicians and social workers? Why was the riot squad sent in to respond to a kid saying they wanted to self-harm?
"These are systemic factors that we have seen time and time again lead to Aboriginal deaths in custody, and we call on the WA Government to have greater transparency and accountability surrounding incidences of unwarranted force and dangerous practices in youth detention facilities."
Amnesty noted that the recent release of the footage comes after the suicide death of 16-year-old teenager, Cleveland Dodd in Unit 18 youth wing of Casuarina Prison, in October.
Amnesty International Australia urged the WA Government, and all other state and territory governments, to put an end to "the inhumane and degrading treatment and punitive measures inflicted upon its youth in detention" by implementing the Royal Commission's recommendations that tackle the root causes of imprisonment, focusing on diverting young people away from detention.
Indigenous youth are drastically over-represented in Western Australia's youth justice system.
A WA Government spokesperson told National Indigenous Times that it is "a sad fact that young people in detention can be complex, challenging and often violent".
"The young person involved in these incidents has regularly engaged in violent and disruptive behaviour towards centre staff. From 1 January 2023, this young person has been involved in over 200 incidents while in detention - including staff assaults, possession of weapons, fighting, cell fires, rooftop incidents and major disturbances," they alleged.
"Youth Custodial Officers and the Special Operations Group are sometimes required to respond to the extreme and often violent actions of young people in detention.
"Restraints were required in these incidents to prevent the young person attacking staff or self-harming. These incidents took place in mid-2022. Conditions at Banksia Hill Detention Centre and Unit 18 have significantly improved since this time, with increased staffing numbers, out-of-cell hours, education, programs and support services for young people. The 'figure four' restraint technique is no longer used."
In 2012 the Committee on the Rights of the Child said that Australia's juvenile justice system required substantial reform before it would meet international standards, noting, for example, that children in Australia are held criminally responsible from the age of 10, two years younger than the CRC's internationally acceptable minimum.
In 2017, Australia ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), established to ensure governments were protecting the rights, health and safety of people in any kind of detention facility, including prisons, youth detention centres, immigration detention, hospital, aged care and disability facilities.
Two years ago, 30 countries of the United Nations Human Rights Council publicly condemned the Australian government for the grave human rights violations being committed in its detention and prison facilities.
In October that same year, the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture suspended its visit to Australia after being blocked from visiting facilities in New South Wales and Queensland.
In January last year, OPCAT was forced to cancel its planned visit to inspect Australia's detention and prison facilities, as the Australian government failed to meet its deadline in implementing its commitments to the OPCAT convention.